I guess it’s subjective and depends on what you want from a local, whether it’s a cool drink at the end of the day to unwind, a chance to chew the bacon with your neighbors, or a delicious meal when no one bothers to cook.

It’s been six years since my original ‘local’ closed and I still get a serious pang of sadness every time I pass the Haynes Arms on the A19 at Kirby Sigston. It’s where my friends, who like me grew up on farms scattered around the area, would gather on a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes for food but more often for a drink – the lift home is easier than if we drove further abroad.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of nostalgia for Haynes’ heyday that makes me grateful when I come across somewhere with a similar feel, and that was the case on a recent, chilly Friday night when an organizational failure on my part meant I didn’t try to book a place for tea to 6:30 p.m., I tried to call the Wheatsheaf Inn in Hutton Redby.

I had never been there before and knew nothing about the menu or the hours, but as soon as the phone was answered I knew I was on to a winner. Can I book a table for two tonight? No problem. Can I come as soon as I can (my stomach is already grumbling)? Yes, definitely. And in the background could be heard the pleasant hum of a busy pub.

Twenty minutes later, after parking in the center of Hutton Redby, my sister and I approached the Wheatsheaf, which overlooks a green park and was completely lined with cars. Brightly lit inside and out, we could see many other diners.

We were warmly greeted at the bar and shown to our table – next to the log fire – and handed menus, including one detailing the evening special of two steaks and a bottle of wine for £35, which seems like great value these days.

Blazing fire at Whitsiff, Hatton Radby

However, we opted for the main menu, which has plenty of classic pub fare, although the lasagne, steaks and ale pies weren’t available the night we were there.

Carefully watching the portion sizes at the neighboring tables, we decided to share an appetizer, opting for the homemade chicken goujons. They were quite large when they arrived, with bbq and garlic sauce and a side of salad, so sharing was a good decision. The chicken was tender and the coating had a nice crunch, although the more we ate them, the saltier they seemed to taste. Claire said they reminded her of a KFC takeaway during her student days (which she meant as a compliment), but having never been to KFC, I couldn’t make any informed comment.

Homemade Chicken Goujons are a hearty appetizer, so we were happy to share

Homemade Chicken Goujons are a hearty appetizer, so we were happy to share

For mains I chose the rump steak with fried eggs, forgoing the pineapple, while Claire chose the salmon in dill sauce from the specials board.

My wrap was perfectly cooked, as were the fried eggs, and although my initial reaction to the portion of meat that almost covered the plate was “I’ll never eat all of that”, I ate because it was too delicious to leave . The chips that came with it were as good as you can get – plump with a fluffy interior and perfect for scooping up the egg yolk.

Beef sirloin steak with two fried eggs - but no pineapple

Beef sirloin steak with two fried eggs – but no pineapple

Claire’s salmon, which came with a side of vegetables, was perhaps a little overcooked, but the delicious dill sauce more than made up for it.

Salmon in dill sauce from the signature menu

Salmon in dill sauce from the signature menu

As we discussed desserts – the menu was delightfully retro with options including banana split, knickerbocker glory and mint chocolate ice cream – patrons at a nearby table were setting the world straight by discussing how foolish it was for Matt Hancock to trust a journalist – a journalist of all people! – with your WhatsApp messages. I managed to resist the urge to step in to protect the integrity of the trade and we also resisted the pudding. We were both just well fed, and the next course could well turn into a breeding ground for gluttony.

The bill, which included two glasses of wine and two soft drinks, came to £46.65 – really good value. The service throughout was excellent. From the first phone call to the moment we paid the bill, everyone was friendly, efficient and committed to making the pub really good.

When we left, just after 8pm, there were plenty of diners still enjoying their food and a decent number of people out for a drink. Clearly, the benefits of doing the basics well – a warm welcome, a hearty meal and a roaring fire – are paying off for the Wheatsheaf. Long live the local pub – we really don’t know what we have until they, like the Haynes Arms, are gone.

Wheat Snap Tavern

Hutton Rudby, 10 East Side, TS15 0DB.

Tel: 01642 700452

Web: wheatsheafhr.co.uk

Ratings (out of ten): Quality of food 8 Service 9 Surroundings 7 Value 9


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